In a new interview, Hollywood starlet Octavia Spencer dishes on her upbringing and how it shapes her work ethic, putting on her producer hat for Fruitvale Station and dating in the industry. Check out a few excerpts below.
On how Octavia’s mother raised her, by cleaning and working odd jobs to support the family.
That instilled a work ethic in me to make sure that I could always provide for myself — there’s no job too small. We always had what we needed and sometimes what we wanted.
On how she helped “Fruitvale Station,” whose filmmakers lost $150,000 of the $900,000 budget, and became a producer helping secure funds for the project:
I put money in, and I started calling all of my rich friends to buy $25,000 increments, or units. Being a producer is pretty much solving a puzzle. It’s putting people together and in the right place. I do that in my own life.
On how she approaches new projects like optioning books, including one about Madam C. J. Walker:
Since making ‘Hidden Figures,’ I don’t have a problem saying to a room of male executives: ‘I need a female writer or a female director,’ or ‘I need a black voice or a Latin voice.’ I do not feel bad about it.
On how she prepares for roles like Guillermo del Toro’s “The Shape of Water”, where she plays a cleaning lady:
It’s really difficult to be in that mind-set of the ’60s and then go out into the real world and have fun. So I don’t. I isolate.
On wanting to diversify the roles that she plays:
I’ve yet to play anyone who remotely resembles me. I’m carefree. I don’t have kids. I’m more of a romantic comedy, dating the wrong people and trying to find love.
On the travails of industry dating:
You do not want to muddy the waters at work. But sometimes you just have to track a little mud.
Octavia will play the role of Dorothy Johnson Vaughan, an African American mathematician who worked at the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA), in the upcoming film Hidden Figures. It hits theaters on December 25th, 2016.